City: Tbilisi, Georgia
Years on Couchsurfing: 5
Why did you get involved with Couchsurfing?
At first, to find a free place to sleep. Once I did it a few times I realized that it made my trip much more interesting to stay with locals rather than in hostels. Now I mainly host but in the past I was mainly surfing for several years. I like to host several groups at a time because it’s more fun.
What was your first Couchsurfing experience?
Being hosted with 2 friends by a guy with a tiny apartment in Romania. I never knew people could be so kind. He took us out to dinner and bars and we had a great time.
What was one of your most interesting hosting experience?
I hosted a couchsurfer who was traveling by bicycle and then decided to buy a bike and continue with her for the next 4 months cycling around Central Asia. It the craziest trip of my life.
Wow! Quite an impulsive trip I see! And what about surfing?
There are a lot… Sleeping in an old caravanserai in Uzbekistan with a host who didn’t care that couchsurfing was illegal there and just wanted to meet interesting travelers, staying in a small village in Norway and taking my host’s boat to go dumpster diving at the supermarket across the fjord and coming back with a full boat of food, staying in a house near Moscow that’s basically a squat for all hitchhikers to hang out and live as long as they contribute to the positive atmosphere.
Incredible. Has there been any book that has inspired your travels?
Hitchwiki. It’s not a book but has more information than most books. It is the world’s best resource to learn how to travel independently.
I’ll have to check it out! So as an experienced solo-traveler, what is a crazy thing that has happened to you on the road?
I was hitchhiking in Kyrgyzstan and was invited for dinner with the governor of that region, he asked me to bribe the American embassy to get him a visa, and then drunk drove me to my hostel.
While I don’t endorse drunk driving, that is a great story! Is there any place in Tbilisi that shares the same values as Couchsurfing?
Velo Cafe. They’re very welcoming for cyclists and all sorts of travelers.
I’ll definitely check it out. What about a place or experience that people should have in Georgia?
Buy fresh fruits and vegetables and raw milk and homemade cheese from the babushkas on the little residential side street because it’s so much better than a supermarket.
And fresher! Have you ever met anyone famous?
Anton Krotov. He’s a famous hitchhiker. Definitely more interesting than a movie star.
Very cool! As you’ve traveled so much, do you have a dream vacation?
Cycling and ski touring in Pakistan.
Awesome. And last question, what is your advice to new Couchsurfers?
Don’t make plans. Just go.